Winning over an insecure working class must be Labour’s strategy for the election

As Labour’s lead in the polls narrows to 1-2%, we need to keep our nerve and get our priorities right.   The previous Blairite electoral rule was to focus exclusively on middle class marginal seats with a narrow majority on the grounds that working class constituencies were bound to vote Labour if for no other reason than to keep the Tories out.   That attitude is exactly wrong.   Working class voters do have an option, in fact two of them: they can simply not vote, which is precisely what millions of them did in 2005 and 2010, but in addition this time they have another allurement – UKIP.   The real problem for Labour is that for too many working class voters the party doesn’t feel like the Labour party which once represented them and fought for them and with which therefore they strongly identified.   Ed Miliband has certainly come up with some resonant themes on energy, Living Wage, banks, etc., but there is a desperate need to join up the threads and pull them together within a strategic framework which makes it indelibly clear what a Labour Government will do – and above all why that will strongly benefit the working class, not just middle Britain which is often a misnomer for the upper middle class.

There are several strong reasons for pursuing this strategy.   One is that working class influence in deciding elections is hugely under-estimated.   They are the largest class in the country, representing nearly half the electorate, and the most cohesive since the middle class under market pressures has become more fragmented.   Second, they have been under continuous attack and feel deeply let down by the Labour party in failing to defend them as they would have expected against Osborne’s austerity, soaring rents, the suppression of trade unions and workplace rights, job-cutting privatisations and outsourcings, and the squeezing of the wage share by out-of-control inequality and rampaging capital.   Third, the depredations of this government, arguably even harsher than Thatcher, have produced an enormous groundswell of anger seething just below the surface, but what it lacks is the lead from Labour to transform it into a decisive political force.

Five strategic themes could turn around the slide in the polls.   Labour will reverse austerity by public investment to kickstart the economy and reduce the dole queues by a million or more within 2 years.   Labour will bring in rent controls to stop rapidly rising, unaffordable rents and by the end of a 5-year term will be building 250,000 houses a year, a third of them social housing.   Labour will re-nationalise rail and at least some of the energy companies because of their crucial importance to national security.   Labour will ensure workers get a proper say in the company for which they work through enterprise councils and through encouraging the spread of collective bargaining.    And Labour will reverse privatisations in the central areas of human welfare, in particular in health, education, housing and pensions.

One thought on “Winning over an insecure working class must be Labour’s strategy for the election

  1. I’m sorry but I don’t believe a word of it.

    Blair had 13 years to all that or any of it and what he left us with a Labour party that is in many ways now well to to right of Thatcher, (identity cards, the imposition of predatory commercial interests on and into the civil service, education, social care and; the NHS as precursor to it’s abolition, or that fat fraud Ed Balls recently describing the disabled and the unemployed as, “people who expect something for nothing,” etc,)and he hardly built even a single new house for the social housing sector that Thatcher had decimated.

    So the claim that Labour party are suddenly going rediscover their socialist principles is as unconvincing as it’s dishonest particularly with an election coming up and both party’s competing to see who can tell us the biggest pack of lies.

    I’m not sure that anyone I know would even recognize who was being described by the term, working class, anyway.

    Too many of them, (note I say them,) aren’t working at all and no has the faintest idea how generate 4-6 million real sustainable jobs paying a living wage, let alone balance the books.

    As for UKIP who are not unlike the Tea Party in America simply a group of disgruntled ultra righting conservatives being given more attention than they really warrant to disconcert the other conservatives and make the current rotten and utterly corrupt state of British politics seem more interesting than it really is.

    They do however strike a cord in their willingness to discuss the increasingly negative effects and implications of massive cultural incursions into the UK whose impact is becoming more and more apparent to most working class people.

    Even those of us who do not regard ourselves as being in any sense racist, (a cop out used to avoid even discussing these issues have considerable sympathy with some of their point of view without necessarily entirely endorsing it.

    But you’re quite correct in your comment that most of the working people I’ve worked with are extremely bitter about the way Blair sold them all out to finance gold plated pensions etc for his mates.

    As for Milliband, he’s probably slightly brighter than Cameron, (not difficult,) but that’s probably about all you can really say about him he cut very much from the same cloth as all the others, including Cameron and Clegg.

    People will be voting Labour simply because there is no other choice, not because they trust, like or respect them.

    Playing the Hovis theme whilst invoking the spirit of Keir Hardy, (I doubt anyone even remembers who he was now, even in the Labour part) isn’t going to fool anyone.

    “To claim for socialism that it is a class war is to do it an injustice and indefinitely postpone its triumph. Socialism offers a platform broad enough for all to stand upon. It makes war upon a system, not upon a class.”

    Keir Hardy

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